Helping or Hindering My Special Needs Grandchild’s Development

Question:

A year ago, I was asked by my son and his wife to return to my former position as a teacher in our church’s preschool ministry.

It’s a little complicated because at birth she tested positive for a lifelong metabolic disorder. Fortunately, she seems to have a mild case of this and hasn’t had any problems so far.

As we approach Move Up Sunday, should I stay with her another year or let her go on her own to help her stretch and get more involved with others?

Response:

How blessed your granddaughter is to have you in her life! Children with special needs often require accommodations that might not be provided for typically developing children.

You mentioned that she is doing fine so far, but it is wise to keep her diagnosis in mind since she is still so young. You may begin to see some effects of the metabolic disorder as she grows.

I would suggest that you stay with her now and that you and other adults involved in her education begin to prepare her to move to the next class just as soon as she has settled into the new year.

Transitions are hard for all kids and even harder for kids who have conditions that may affect their ability to cope with transitions. Therefore, they need the adults in their lives to help them prepare, slowly and methodically, for each new transition. As she progresses through this year, you can remind her that she will be moving ahead on her own next year. Help her get connected with children and other teachers that she will be involved with in the next class.

Her mother could plan play dates with those children throughout the year. She could also take a transitional object, such as a favorite stuffed animal, that travels with her from the old class to the new class to ease her comfort in the transition. She could also have a plan for briefly touching base with you in the morning as she arrives for her new class. Talk with the staff as they will likely have other ideas for helping with the transition.

Remember too, that if for some reason, symptoms begin to develop and it does not appear that she will be able to tolerate moving to the next class without you, her mother and the staff may decide to have you move with her again. You have time to figure that out.

Enjoy every moment with your precious granddaughter!

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